Photos submitted by residents along the Kuskokwim
1. Eek Fish Camp, 2014
George Alexie sent us this photo of his family’s fish camp near Eek, near the mouth of the Kuskokwim River. Normally, these fish racks would be more than half full with king salmon by this time of the year.
2. Eek Fish Camp, Full
This is a photo of George Alexie’s fish camp taken in June, 2013. It holds enough fish to feed two to three families through the winter. Typically they harvest about 100-150 kings. During the past two years they’ve only caught 40-50 kings.
3. Eek Fish Camp, Full
This photo from a previous season is from Andrea Petluska of Eek. She said this was the first batch of king salmon hung up to dry. Her family usually has three batches, which feed about 19 people.
4. Kasigluk Fish Rack, Empty
This photo is from Esai Twitchell of Kasigluk. He said the cloudy skies capture the gloom of an empty fish rack.
5. Kasigluk Fish Rack, Full
Another photo from Esai Twitchell of a past year when there were lots of fish, which fed an extended family of about 35 people.
6. Napaskiak Fish Rack, Empty
This photo is from Christine Owens of Bethel. Her family has a fish camp near Napaskiak, downriver of Bethel.
7. Napaskiak Fish Rack, Full
Another photo from Napaskiak, taken in 2011, courtesy of Christine Owen, who teaches at Ayaprun Elitnaurvik, the Yup’ik language immersion school in Bethel.
8. Oscarville Fish Camp, Full
This photo was sent to us from Steve O’Brien, a retired teacher. It was taken at a fish camp near Oscarville, just outside of Bethel. Steve married into a Yup’ik family. His sister-in-law, Joann Neck, is cutting king salmon into slabs. Steve tells us, “We used to share the camp and would collaborate in catching, cleaning, drying and smoking for six families – 24 people.”
9. Oscarville Fishing Camp, 2000
This second photo from Steve O’Brien, also taken near Oscarville in 2002, features Katie Albrite. Steve said, “Katie was our fish camp neighbor and ‘elder,’ matriarch of the Albrite families – and my wife’s auntie. Her family collaborated as ours did. And they’d feed at least five families totaling over 30 people.”
10. Hoffman Family Fish Rack, Empty, 2014
Bev Hoffman’s fish rack is at her home on the outskirts of Bethel. Normally it would be loaded with king salmon, cut into strips. But Bev feels it’s better to let the endangered king salmon swim on past Bethel, so they can reach their spawning grounds. Instead, her family will target other species of salmon such as sockeyes, chums and cohos, which run later in the summer
11. Hoffman Family Fish Rack, Full
Some of Bev Hoffman’s earliest memories are putting up fish with her family in Bethel. This is a photo from a year in which the king salmon run was stronger. Bev is standing here with her sister-in-law, Jill Hoffman. She and her brothers and sisters normally put up enough king salmon to feed several families.
12. Old Photo of Chums Drying on a Rack
Bev Hoffman of Bethel provided this photo of an elder standing behind a rack of chum salmon. She’s not sure when or where it was taken but said it’s an example of how people traditionally utilized other species of salmon, which will be necessary this season, to conserve king salmon.
13. Fish Camp Near Bethel, Empty
Carolyn Moses of Bethel sent us this photo of her family fish camp. “Fish racks are looking empty at the moment,” said Carolyn. “But hopefully soon, Lord willing, we’ll have reds and chums to cut and smoke.”
14. Fish Camp Near Bethel, Full
Carolyn Moses of Bethel also sent us a photo of her family camp last year. She wanted to show us the many different ways salmon is cut and dried. “One of my favorite pictures of all time,” wrote Carolyn. “And the rewards are the yummy and tasty smoked fish, ready to eat!”
15. Moving Strips to the Smoke House
Mary Rosanne Katzke of Anchorage shared a photo of Ester Venes moving king salmon strips into a smokehouse. Mary, who works in the film industry, told us this was taken in the summer of 2009 while a film crew was shooting footage for a women’s health campaign.
“She came over and wanted to show us her smoke house. The light was coming in beautifully and her kuspuk was clean and purple, the perfect complement,” said Mary. “This photo has appeared in a few publications since then. I love it. I have it on my wall as well.
16. Akiachak and Akiak Fish Camp
This photo is from Diane Hirschberg, an education policy researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Research. Pictures from Frank and Elena Chingliak’s fish camp were used as part of a program to help school teachers understand Alaska Native culture.
17. Akiachak and Akiak Fish Camp
Another photo from Frank and Elena Chingliak’s fish camp. Salmon roe hanging to dry. Those are used in soup.
18. Akiakchak Fish Camp
Another photo of an Akiak/Akiachak area fish camp.
19. Sheefish in slabs
Dunia Morgan of Kalskag shared a photo of dried sheefish or chee fish, a white fish people are turning to as an alternative to king salmon.
20. Sheefish in strips
You don’t usually see this, sheefish or chee fish, cut into strips. But since king salmon are unavailable this year, Dunia Morgan tells us people in Kalskag have turned to sheefish as a substitute.
“We put them away in the freezer already,” said Dunia. “We got about 60 chee fish this year and they were tasty.”